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Our Process

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RESEARCH

Most of the time contacts, customers and friends will come to us with an original motorcycle (or motorcycle part) with the remnants of an original design left on there.

We then search through our books or original brochures from when the motorcycles were sold to try and confirm if the design is correct. This can be a lengthy process. It’s often hard to find such accurate information and majority of the brouchures are in black and white too.

A lot of the time nowadays, we aren’t given motorcycle parts but have to design the artwork from an image sent to us. This can be done providing the image is taken directly in front or from above the transfer (depending on where it’s positioned) and not from an angle. As it’s difficult to work out dimensions and proportions of parts of the design from an angled or distorted image.

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PLANNING FOR THE DESIGN STAGE

Once we know what we are going to be designing, we like to indentify which models it was used on, for which years in particular and where the transfer is positioned on those models.

Then we need to work out the best possible way to design the transfer. Even if we have an original part, it’s often missing lots of the printed text and the colours would have likely faded.

At this point, Bob would of traced over the design from a motorcycle part so that he could get an accurate shape of the design and the correct dimensions. For much larger designs which conform to tank curvatures etc.. and where it’s difficult to design by eye, we still use this method today. However, the majority of the time we mostly work from images sent to us and so Adam would import the image into his CAD software, crop and then rotate the image so it’s aligned correctly and ready for the design stage.

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HAND-DRAWING THE ARTWORK (THE OLD METHOD)

For a lot of the 20th Century, computers weren’t used in designing transfers, and if they were, this luxury was reserved to the big companies like General Motors etc. So majority of the artwork for motorcycle transfers was handrawn for quite a long period.

Bob was a Structural Engineer and Draftsman for most of his career, meaning he had an eye for attention to detail and a steady hand for drawing technical artwork. This came in useful when he first started drawing the artwork for Waterslide Transfers.

Waterslide Transfers were screen printed one colour layer at a time. So we would have to design the artwork for every colour layer on seperate Policrom sheets with registration marks so that the artwork when overlapped would all align up correctly and print the correct colours in the right order. In the image to the left, you can see Bob drawing the Black colour layer artwork, the gold layer is on the top left and the red layer is shown on the top right for this Norman transfer.

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DESIGNING ARTWORK IN 2021

In 2021, Adam designs all his artwork using CAD software. It allows him to be much more accurate than he could by hand. Most of the time, he will import an image of an original and then trace-design over the top of it so that he can keep as close to the original design as possible.

One of the biggest challenges when re-designing original artwork is the typography. As most of the text on these transfers was handrawn, no font exists for them, and so every individual letter needs to be traced over and designed from scratch in order to keep the new artwork as close to the orignal as possible. This can be extremely time consuming.

In the video on the left, you can see some artwork which when the black layer is clicked on, it switches to ‘Node Editing format’. You can then see that the white layer bleeds underneath the black. This is because when we print the white layer first, sometimes the next colour on top doesn’t print perfectly centre, and so by adding a bleed, there won’t be any gaps between the black and white colours because the white has a bleed underneath the black.

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PRINTING THE ARTWORK

Around 2/3 of our stock is screen printed waterslide transfers, mostly for a british motorcycles. This is the more tradtional method where one colour layer is screen printed at a time. The more colours involved, the more time-consuming and complex the print becomes.

Around 1/3 of our transfers are printed using the highest attainable quality vinyl being only 50 microns thin. We can digitally print using solvent machines and we also have a thermal printer for mettalic printing.

As waterslide transfers are printed in the hundreds, it’s ideal for us to print some of our transfers in vinyl as we can print much smaller batches. This is why a lot of the rare or European transfers that we supply are printed this way.